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Wednesday, January 21, 2009


A real nice older lady drove in for an oil change appointment, older in the sense she had probably a decade on me. She asked me how much I charge for the service. When I told her, she literally gasped in shock. I received one of my favorite humorous lines in response.

“You can’t charge that much!”

I laughed, because I’m not the mortgage industry, a car manufacturer, an oil company executive, or a health care system worker. The government doesn’t own a part of me… yet. The entitlement mentality has damaged the populace to the extent they believe if the price they are quoted for a service doesn’t suit them, they can simply demand the service provider change it. The remark doesn't bother me because I know the people don't mean it literally. They're just surprised. Granted, I’m an anomaly. I own my land and the business, at least as long as I pay the property taxes. The chain type oil change places sometimes advertise the service for under twenty dollars. I can’t even buy the quality of oil and filter I install for twenty dollars. I use Motorcraft Synthetic Blend oil and AC/Delco oil filters.

“I do charge that much, Ma’am, but I’m sure you could find someone to change it for less. I don’t attempt to compete with other shops on oil changes.”

“Do you know what they charge?”

“If you mean other shops, I don’t know.”

“Why are you so high?”

“Because I don’t do loss leader work here, in that I don’t have sales on anything to draw in customers,” I answered simply.

“Well… if you don’t mind, I think I’ll shop around a bit. Thank you for your honesty.”

“No problem, that’ll be twenty-two fifty for the canceled appointment and honesty.”


“I’m joking Ma’am,” I added quickly, seeing she had taken my smartass comment to heart.

“Oh…” she chuckled.

I watched her drive off, glad I wasn’t doing oil and filter change sale specials, and happy she could shop for a cheaper price within her budget. I no longer wish to compete for everything. The lady politely called an hour later to inform me she was able to get it done for thirty dollars; and to thank me again, saying maybe she’d try me for other stuff. I told her to call anytime. :)


Jordan Summers said...

The mindset is not funny, but the entry is. Very cool, B. It turned into a win-win. :)

Virginia Lady said...

Okay, I gotta ask, what do you charge? :-)

I hate changing oil. I always make a mess since I don't do it all the time.

Charles Gramlich said...

I got a chuckle from this, although I'm sorry you didn't get the business.

BernardL said...

I believe she will stop in for more complicated matters, Jordan. We in the service business have brought the mindset on ourselves. Over the last few decades, we've went from polite, quality service to loss leader groveling. :)

About fifty-two to fifty-six dollars, VL, including the 8.75% state tax blood money. :) I agree about the mess. They've manufactured many vehicles so it is messy to change oil. I have to have plenty of fast drying spray cleaner to make sure I get the wet residue off the engine and frame on some of them.

It is funny, Charles, and I don't mind losing out on the oil changes. I'm pretty competitive on all other aspects of repair, including diagnostics and computer flashing.

BernardL said...

Oh yeah, VL, I forgot to add we have always disposed of waste oil properly, only now instead of the recyclers paying us for the waste oil, we have to pay them. :)

Miladysa said...

“No problem, that’ll be twenty-two fifty for the canceled appointment and honesty.” LOL

I wonder why she did not ask the cost before she made the appointment?

BernardL said...

It was my fault, Miladysa. When she made the appointment, I thought I recognized her voice and her name. When I checked the files, it turned out she was a new customer. I volunteer the information when a new customer calls for an oil and filter change so they don't waste a trip. :)